Chronicle of the Humanitarian Mission in Calcutta 2018

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“Giving makes you really happy”

Also in 2018, a group of volunteers from VIDA dedicated a good part of the summer period to go to Calcutta and participate in the humanitarian mission serving the poorest of the poor. “My experience in Calcutta has been very gratifying: to feel the love of many people who fill you with affection and give you more than you can give them. They donate their gratitude and kindness to you”, said Anna Maria, a volunteer from Barcelona, at the end of her days in Calcutta. It’s true, you go there to give; but you return having received more than you feel you have been able to give. We return with a heart full of happiness and gratitude for the wonderful experience. These feelings are underlined by all the volunteers who come back from Calcutta and for many it is also a reason to repeat the experience. This year’s group consisted of 27 volunteers from: Spain (the largest group), Italy, Mexico, France and the United States. This year, really, there were many! Rebecca, from Mexico, wanted to give her testimony: “Volunteering in Calcutta was undoubtedly a strong experience but at the same time comforting, very difficult but satisfying, very tiring but restorative of the heart, that I have ever experienced in my Life: Meeting Jesus in the eyes of my brothers was wonderful thing that I lived in India as well as serving others without worrying about anything else was definitely the best experience of my life.” “Serving others without worrying about anything else” it is what all the volunteers have done in the three centers of the “sisters” Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa (“Shihu Bhavan”, “Prem Dan” and “Shanti Dan”), in the Center of the “brothers” Missionaries of Charity (“Nabo Jibon”), in “Nirmal Niketan” (which is managed by the Missionaries of the Word) and, finally, in “Mother Teresa vocational training center” (also managed by the Missionaries of the Word) where the volunteers painted some of the classrooms on the second floor. An immense work that becomes light because done with love and a lot of joy. Every day the volunteers got up early to go into the chaos of the city and get to the centers to serve in what was to be done; usually to do simple things, but very useful for the missionaries who devote their whole life to these poor, abandoned and sick people. The fruit of this donation is happiness. As Álvaro, from Seville, told us: “Giving makes you truly happy, giving a smile or a gesture to connect with a person who receives your energy and at the same time gives it back to you through an empathic embrace, it is a very recommendable experience. Thanks VIDA!” In addition of what is done in the centers, we visited a center that accommodates lepers; another day we took the children of “Nirmal Niketan” to the zoo; another day was dedicated to another project that VIDA has been carrying forward for many years and which is very much appreciated by volunteers: “Home for Homeless” which consists in giving food, clothing and hygiene items to hundreds of people living on the street and in the poorer “slums” of Calcutta. In addition, we visited the solidarity projects the Foundation “Colores de Calcuta” that VIDA has been supporting for several years. Almost at the end of the mission, we all participated in this overwhelming party that the children and young disabled of “Nirmal Niketan” have prepared with care and offered to us and their families. What a tenderness and how much emotion in seeing so much affection and gratitude! Let’s finish these few lines on the mission that took place from July 30 to August 15, 2018, with the testimony of Sole, one of the Spanish volunteers: “My experience in Calcutta was intense but gratifying. I would like to collaborate with this NGO in other missions and projects such as with “distance adoption” of a needy child, thank you so much VIDA! I hope there are people ready to serve those who are in need next year coming with us and share this great experience and that the mission is not reduced to a few days in the summer, but for a lifetime!
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